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tv   First Ladies Influence Image  CSPAN  September 16, 2013 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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focuses on helen taft. then henry paulson and former representative arnie frank. and president obama marks the anniversary of the financial vices with a speech on the economy. ♪ >> helen taft was more ambitious about getting to the white house than her husband, william howard taft, and was willing to get personally involved in politics to get him elected. she overcame a serious illness to directly manage the white house. invited top classical musicians to perform there. also has one of the most visible legacies of all first ladies. washington d.c.'s famous japanese cherry tree. bring tens of thousands of visitors to washington every
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year. good evening and welcome to "first ladies." the life of helen taft. her husband served in the white house until 1913. her lifepeak about and legacy is her biographer. the biography of her is "helen taft, our musical first lady. you open the book by making the case that she is the most obscure of 27 -- 20th century first ladies. why do you think she deserves better than being obscure? >> she did things that were very constructive. the cherry trees, bringing the classical music and musicians to the white house, and, generally, trying to make washington the cultural center of the nation. that was her ambition. out because of medical reasons. that wouldagenda have made her rank with eleanor roosevelt or lady johnson in terms of transforming
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washington if things had gone the other way. >> she had an agenda to get her husband to the white house. >> the story is that she decided when she visited the white , "hey, i want to do that as well here: there are a lot of women who wanted to have their husbands be presidents. sometimes, she is portrayed as a cross between mommy dearest and lady may have, which is not the case. she was a much more constructive influence. anhelen taft has interesting story. many of you in the audience will be hearing it for the first time tonight. you can be involved in our conversation in a lot of ways. send us a comment on facebook facebook. we already have a robust discussion starting there. ,ou can also send us a tweet --rst lady." -- hash can't #first ladies. this story.ar
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how did she get to the white house at age 16? in cincinnati was rutherford b. hayes and lucy hayes and they went to the white house. she went only once but had not yet made her debut and could not yet participate in social activity, but she was there. president hayes said it was wonderful to have them there. , shee past family lore
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was supposed to have said, i will come back. that is really what she said, but like many people, i want to marry a man who may become president. >> she came from a political family. >> yes. her father was a friend of benjamin, and involved in politics on her mother's side. she was quite the intellectual. she was reading darwin and had the ability to play the piano, which she studied seriously thay what she said, but like many people, i want to marry a man who may become president. >> she came from a political family. >> yes. her father was a friend of benjamin, and involved in politics on her mother's side. she was quite the intellectual. she was reading darwin and had the ability to play the piano, which she studied seriously. i wish there were recordings, and there does not seem to be. that is really what she said, but like many people, i want to marry a man who may become president. >> she came from a political family. >> yes. her father was a friend of benjamin, and involved in politics on her mother's side. she was quite the intellectual. she was reading darwin and had the ability to play the piano, which she studied seriously. i wish there were recordings, and there does not seem to be. in cincinnati, a very culturally rich city in those days. had seven hills. they thought of themselves as the rome. >> she was from a political the matter how much -- getting to the white house, how did she shoot -- choose taft as her mate? >> they knew of each other in a small community. it was after he had gone to yell and come back for cincinnati alstom -- law school that their lives again to intersect and they began to court. her mid-20's, late for marrying in those days, and he was almost 29 by the time he
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gets married. they started going out to some of the beer halls in cincinnati and gradually fell in love. he was much more smitten with her originally then she was with him. but he proposed, she rejected him, a standard thing in those days. the woman never excepted the off.sal right they had a rather lengthy standards, which sometimes last all weekend. in those days, she made him wait the matter how much -- getting a while, then got mad in june 1886. >> where did she go to college? studied a little bit at the university of cincinnati, but almost was self educated. took courses but did not ever get a degree. did not have a degree like her husband did. --how hard was it for common was it for women to go to beer halls in those days? >> it was not a thing.
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with its german community and stuff like that, it was where young people went. young people in the 80's had the same impulses they have today. that is where people went. they did not date quite the way they would later in the 20th century. >> william howard taft was not intending a career in politics when he proposed. >> he wanted to be a lawyer and get to the supreme court. he would later say, like any good politician, he had his bull turned upward when offices were falling in his lap. he definitely wanted to be chief justice of the united states from the time he learned about the law. madelliam howard taft good on his wish. he is the only president who also served in the role of chief justice of the united states. we will learn more after the white house progresses.
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was helen intal moving him in that direction as a politician? >> in the initial stages, she had relatively little influence because he becomes a state judge and then he becomes a solicitor general of the united states and is appointed to the court of appeals in ohio. she watched him do that. the big turning point came in -- in early 1900 when president mckinley called him to come to washington and offers him a chance to go and establish a civilian government in the philippines. she says, take it. she says, by all means, this a spheree my husband of power and influence he would not have had any other way. that was the decisive moment in their lives when he was in his mid-40's, to moving to being in politics in a new way. >> we have to quote one from
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each of the test. sense of how interested the two of them were in politics, you could tell how much this really reflects their overall attitudes, from helen taft, she writes of her husband, mr. taft was all but impervious to any friendly advice -- we have a 1906 quote from william howard taft. he says, -- >> some of that was for public consumption. pursued a political career with more zest than we sometimes realize. is thatlie was saying he had a way to get people to push them in her direction he wanted to go. i think she is acknowledging he moved her as much as she moved him. >> a reference to his career and
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he mentions the two that were in the law. in addition, let's take a look at the political positions that william howard taft held over his lifetime. in 1890 21892, he served as solicitor in -- solicitor general. he was governor general of the philippines. an important part in that country's development and our relationship with it. in 1904 was the secretary of war. they called the secretary of defense today. president from 1909 to 1913. later on, his life switched, became the chief justice of the united states. of the early positions, secretary avenue -- of war, which was most helpful? >> i think the governor general of the philippines made him a national figure. when he goes to theodore roosevelt's cabinet, he presents theelf to roosevelt as
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logical choice in 19 eight. once roosevelt had said, "i will not run." he looked over the cabinets to see who might be his successor -- successor. eleanor might be too old, but will taft from ohio, a state that really mattered to republicans in those years, and he became the logic of the situation. >> very briefly, why does the united states have the ability to appoint a governor general of the philippines? >> as the result of the spanish- american war in the treaty of paris in 1898 december, spain wt philippines to the united states and they became the possessor and would remain so until 1946. >> we have been taking you to historic sites associated with first ladies and their lives. we will be taking you to the world -- william howard taft national sites in cincinnati.
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we hope those of you interested in this series will visit some of the places we are showing you. up next, we will meet the super heendant of the site and will tell us more about the time spent in the philippines by the taft. >> he got a chance to be the chairman of the philippine commission, and she jumped at the chance to encourage him to take the job. they took the family to the philippines. she had a chance to travel around the world and also had a chance to introduce her children to this travel. she learned different languages. philippines to the united states and they became the possessorbefore she and thet there, taft -- mrs. taft like to have dinners and incorporate philippines people. these are programs from the different rank that were there. william howard
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taft and his family. they treated him just like equals. mrs. pat -- taft invited them to dinners. of thetended a lot celebrations. she liked to see the band play. entertainment was a big part of the things she did over there when in part of the philippines. this is where we keep more valuable artifacts as well as things on display. as we come in, we see mrs. taft collected a lot of philippines items. theyis a storage chest bought over there. it was one of the items they were able to pick up while there. some photographs from ladies in the philippines. they took some formal
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photographs here. and gavee inscriptions them to mrs. taft. is from december 22, 1983, philippines. those illustrate the admiration the philippine people had for the taft family, especially mrs. taft, as she worked to make them feel integrated in the greater society, make them feel equal to the other people, invited them to parties, put on musicals and those types of things, helped with their .ducation they really loved the taft's. we still get people coming from the philippines and still have the connection from the taft family and things they did while there. >> joining the onset, a first lady scholar. was thek, how important time in the philippines to the
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development of helen taft in her role as first lady echoplex very important to her development. when she returned to the united , she met a military wife in the army who had known her in the philippines. she says, you were a clean in philippines. here, you are a nobody. do not think helen ever thought of herself as a nobody. when in the philippines, she was not a clean desk clean -- clean -- a queen. do not think helenshe served hl by doing those things. -- in thesual was it piece, we heard she treated the philippines equal. we were in their country. today, we would think, why would she not? >> the army drew the color line, which meant, they did not associate with
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philippines. for them to shake hands with the philippines and dance with them was seen as quite radical. there were elements in the military that were not thrilled with what taft was doing. he would not have been able to do this in the united states at the same time. the philippines count in part for his and during popularity. -- as soon us out in as possible. >> on twitter, they want to know more about what they thought about the philippine people and their culture when they lived there and how did it shape their view of the population as a whole. she, bys something reaching out to them, she could see the benefit of bringing the cultures together. she was using her executive social skills and management skills, she would go out and taft riding
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ordered a band for the filipino people. would go to a big open space and have concerts. was really something that meant a lot to her. when she wears the filipino formal gallon, she is embracing the culture. --she started in the spring what is a loon at a? >> a space where, on sundays, aristocracy would gather with carriages and go around and have dan concerts. it was the social setting for high society in the philippines. she wanted this to be a place in washington to do that. it was very popular for the first couple of times. after the stroke, she could not personally manage it, but it was one of those false starts
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that characterizes her career. >> those of you watching us along the way know our goal this year is to teach you more, help you learn about each of the americas first ladies. series throughout this year, 20th-century ladies. earlier in the year, we did the first lady's beginning with martha washington. our goal goal is to present the biography of them to help you understand more about the president's administration and also about our country and how it changed and how the role of women changed. there is a lot to talk about. we will give you the telephone number so you can join into the conversation. -- we will love having your calls and questions. they have been a hallmark of the program. also, we developed a website for this series. , there is one special item attached to the first lady we do not talk about during the program.
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today, if you go to the site, you will learn more about a chair she really cherished with -- that she acquired in the philippines. back from the pit -- philippines, talk to me about a very important relationship, maybe the most important other than william howard taft with nellie, and that is the relationship with the baroque -- theodore roosevelt. will taft ntr know each other in the early 90's. , therein the beginning was not still the same rapport between edith and nelly. nellie would say later she did not like edith roosevelt. there was a competition between 90's.hrough the 18 said, i wish i knew more about what exact -- i wish i knew exactly what it happened, but they struck odds when they started out. you had these two
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men who were very close, but their intimate families, not so much. there was not a strong underpinning of the male relationship once the two women were in close proximity. it had something to do with cincinnati versus new york, with edith roosevelt coming from an aristocratic family. helen taft wanting to be upwardly mobile. >> we learned that mrs. roosevelt had regular sessions with all the cabinet wise, which required attendance. what was the effect of those on helen taft and her own thinking about how she might approach the job as first lady's? >> they had weekly meetings in the white house library once a week. helen did attend. i think she thought they were
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too gossipy or the topic of conversation just aboard her and was not something she really enjoyed. she made it known to the press that she would not be continuing because they had not been successful. that was quite a slam to edith to say that publicly. she could have been more genteel on how she transitioned. >> if you were with somebody who is not your husband, you heard from the white house that you better stop your there was a certain amount of gossiping was not astaft hoity-toity as edith roosevelt. that was another source of tension. helen taft wanted to set a .tandard
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edith wanted a higher more -- moral standard. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] caller: hello. if you are know familiar with the miniseries that aired in 1979. i want to ask mr. gold, if you are familiar -- that was really my first awareness of mrs. taft. was that an accurate depiction of her? i thank you. >> i think it was generally accurate. it had some fictional elements
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in it. i do not think most historians regard it as something you should take to the bank and be very reliable. it was dramatized for television purposes. is a useful source, but use it with caution. theodore roosevelt asked him to be his secretary of war. how does that affect them? nellie both loved to travel. he was on the road constantly. he became a troubleshooter diplomatically for tr. , he he would go off hunting would say he left taft on the but he andington, mrs. taft traveled a lot, a story that illustrates her ambiguity about this, when she was traveling and verily garish
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-- very nearly missed the train and said, you have got to help me out on mrs. william howard taft, no response. i am traveling with alex roosevelt, instantaneously, they got her baggage and got her on the train. painful givene the friction between the two. how common would it have been for senior public officials to see that much of the world? was there a lot of traveling going on in that time? >> at this point, with trains and steamships, yes, it was more common. but he wasf war was also called secretary of peace in the newspapers. he was really more of a peacemaker than he was focusing so much on dissent. there is a really great story about his time as secretary of is given alen
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tapestry and she really wants to keep it. says, legally, we need to give it back to the smithsonian. she said, i am a private citizen. she takes it to roosevelt and wants it that badly. roosevelt says, you are a private it is in. that shows the difference between taft and roosevelt. taft very much wanted to honor the law and wrote -- and she would push the envelope a little bit. that is a good way to illustrate the difference between them. >> that became a fundamental difference between them and the way they view the presidency. roosevelt said if it was not put -- forbidden, we can do it. had to be it explicitly allowed before we can do it. the two views of the presidency were very different that they had. >> a real study in leadership. on to facebook, holly wants to
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know how mrs. taft got the nickname, nellie. >> good question. a number of brothers and sisters. it was a family name. her husband refers to her as heard his dearest nellie. -- refers to her as his dearest nellie. did she call him will or mrs. taft? >> will. , he people knew him well was called will. he was not bill or something like that. almost nobody called theodore teddy who knew him well. >> hello. what is your question? >> i love this show so much. i know the president in order. two questions. of the more modern first ladies of the 20th century, who were the more noteworthy after, were anynd dolly, and
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of the first ladies in the 20th century noteworthy, too? , what wasquestion is the inspiration for the cherry tree, thank you. >> the first question is easy. became roosevelt by far a delegate to the united nations so in the post first lady career, she and lady bird johnson, there are others, but those would be two. >> we will show video of it for later on. int is a call from leroy kentucky. hello. great program. i enjoyed this so much. i was looking forward to it last week. i did not get to watch it. i have got a question for ms. cook. were the taft family christian
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people, born-again christians, did they know jesus and study the bible? >> what was the religion and how important was it? >> she grew up in an episcopal church. he was a unitarian. the difference was mostly about the trinity or not which entity. -- or not the trinity. unitarians did not embrace the trinity. of a is a story i read minister in the more traditional tradition who went over to the white house and talked to taft and he came away feeling confident in his .raditional religious the leaf it was important to them. they were not evangelical in that tradition. it was definitely something targeted that. >> taft was to be president of el in 1900 and decided not to do it. he wrote his brother a sentence that if it had come out at the
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time, he would never have been president. he said he does not believe in the divinity of jesus christ. it never became known. in a campaign of 1980, he was attacked for being unitarian and having been friendly to the catholics in the philippines. tr and taft were cautious about how they handled their religious views. >> let me move on to calvin in georgia. i apologize, somerville, alabama. i was going to ask you about the connection taft had with other first ladies that came from ohio, especially lucy hayes. >> we talked a little bit about that earlier. they were very friendly with the hayes family and they did entertain her at the white house. she did spend some time. was there almost
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every weekend. that was way overdrawn. i think she was only there according today's diary. once. the decision she will not run for reelection and has the opportunity to anoint his success for -- successor. how does it become william howard taft? issue,s quite a complex which i will try to nail down in a couple of sentences. taft.l outlived he is also a corporate lawyer, nokia pill you wanted. he looked over the republican party, who was the most available candidate, and here was will taft from ohio, secretary of war, well known because of the philippines, interested in the position so roosevelt begins to convince himself he and taft agree on more than they in fact
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agreed on. this kind of courtship where both invest each other available qualities they want to have later on. they find out they had somewhat deluded themselves. roosevelt >> very serious lobbying of theodore roosevelt to select her husband. ,ecause of her known attitudes maybe it indicated that she was a bit more hesitant. mr. taft was such a poor politician. i urged him to display a little bit more enthusiasm on his own account. she is working both sides. how influential was she?
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>> think about it. if your wife thinks you can be president, that is a big boost that she has that confidence in you. she did meet with theodore roosevelt on two occasions to talk about this. he wanted to offer taft a position on the supreme court. as your to remain secretary of war. roosevelt did not see the passion in taft. there are other men who want this. you need to be more aggressive. he did some campaigning for congressional candidates in 1906 to prove that he could campaign. >> does she meet personally with theodore roosevelt to make the case? road ands out on the she does have a luncheon with
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the president and he says, go buy one of the windows and chat for a while. and tr both believed that she had misinterpreted what he was trying to say. you need to be more aggressive. he was not threatening to support governor hughes. he did not like charles evans hughes. helen was so sensitive to any variation that she interpreted hes warning as a threat that might support the soon-to-be governor of new york. >> what was the election like? >> they held on to the house and senate. they suffered some losses. taft came out of it as the front-runner.
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>> how much did he win by? the general election? he beat william jennings bryant 361--- i forget offhand. it was a pretty decisive victory. it was big enough for all practical purses -- purposes. bryant carried the south. taft did very well. >> there are very -- there are several parts of the story, things did not often break very well for her. -- of those was inaugural inauguration day. there was a blizzard. it made the ceremony go indoors. we have a video about the inauguration. 1909, mrs. taft got
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to realize her dream that she became the first lady to ride back from the capital to the white house with her husband. these are some of the souvenirs from the inauguration. these are a couple of programs from the inauguration ceremony. a little dance card from the inaugural bar -- inaugural ball. invitation to the inaugural ball that would have folks.t to the different it would come along with tickets and the place for you to park. we have quite a few of these things in our collection. this is a bible that was used for swearing in of william howard taft when he was inaugurated in 1909. it was also used when he took the oath of office of chief justice.
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this is an interesting artifact as it represents the culmination of those two high points in his career. the inauguration was the realization of her biggest dreams. husband through a lot of different positions and even though there was a blizzard, a snowstorm, the ceremonies had to be pushed into the capitol building, this was one of the biggest days in her life. what are some of the stories you would like to tell the public about inauguration day? >> theodore roosevelt said, i knew it would be a cold day when i went out.
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she went back to the white house -- it was the night before that was significant for the roosevelt and taft relationship. fts to invited the ta spend the night. evening.very awkward , he saidr years later to his friend, you were there for that funeral in 1909 and we do not want to do that again. there was a great deal of tension between the roosevelts and the tafts the day before he was inaugurated. on facebookiewers says, i detect a smug look on her face in that picture. what do we know about her emotions? she made this decision to get into the car.
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elation andsecret doing something that no other woman had done" this was her proudest moment, writing in that car. being by her husband's side. she set a precedent. first ladies who followed her have done that sense. that since. emergencyve a fashion the night before. her hat caught on fire. point ofas the high her time as first lady. it was almost all downhill after that. she had a very busy two months and we will learn about her approach to the white house. about her transition with edith
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roosevelt, that contributed to the management of the one family moving out and the other family moving in. the oil and water of these two women. what contributed to the friction between them? there was no mechanism for the transition in those days. helen was eager to get started. she talked about changing who the footmen would be at the white house door. who wasd a gentleman white to greet people. americans.ed african- she wanted to change the furniture.
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she had changes she wanted to make right away. let's get started. i will be first lady until march 3, said not so fast. wait a while. , you need too be take over. said, waitlt people a minute, what is going on? what about the appointments being made? .he friendship began to erode it started to erode when taft wrote tr a letter saying, you and my brother charlie are responsible for making the president. charles was a newspaper owner and tr was infuriated by that statement. note.rites a thank you
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today,he parlance of edith roosevelt and helen taft bff's.ot th >> i have been watching the series from beginning. i have a question i wanted to asked. i am a little embarrassed to ascot. to asked.ssed where are they buried? they are not just information on paper and books and old magazines. i would like to know their resting places. >> we will tell you right now. arlington national cemetery.
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she is the first first lady to be buried there. >> the only other is jacqueline kennedy. >> i want to spend a little bit more time understanding the personality and what she brought to the role of the white house. you mentioned earlier that she was very intellectual and that even though she did not go to college, she was self educated. how important was this in shaping the role of first lady. make washington the cultural center of the united states. this made people in new york very uneasy. there were some newspaper columns saying, what do you want to do? washing to did not have a symphony orchestra, did not have -- washington did not have symphony orchestra, did not have
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an opera. she wanted to have the city and she wanted to-- have the city and body american values. that was partly what it was about, making the beautification of the city with the cherry trees. that was all part of her vision of what washington could be. she hit the ground running and she also started going to see congress in visiting the supreme court, advising taft on the cabinet. biographers that i read described her as outspoken, abrupt, and determined. blunt.could be quite
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when she was a young teenager visiting the white house and saw the magic of it and had the idea that she could one day be there, she felt she had the skills to do it. she created these groups in cincinnati and she would bring -- and they would have book discussions. she was determined to bring what she had at her skill set and use it to bring people together socially in washington. >> she had been president of the cincinnati symphony. she had run an orchestra, hiring the conductors in the 1890s. she had executive qualities. when taft proposed somebody for he cabinet, she said to him,
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is quite impossible, i cannot imagine why you ever suggested in. that was the end of that candidate. >> i have some questions. can you tell us how -- what were onft's thoughts segregation? what did she feel about black men being able to vote and not her being able to vote? >> a very timely question. that is the next thing on my list. some people have suggested that she disdained racism. time in the by her philippines. would you agree with that characterization? >> she seemed open. it is hard for me to know precisely what she thought about segregation. actions, she brought
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african-americans in as employees at the white house. that is the best testimony that we have. she also -- >> as servants? >> that is true. she uses the language of the day. -- she was a fully woman of her time period. when it comes to suffrage questions for women, she was not sure that america was quite ready for women to vote because they were not politically active. a were not public minded -- they were not public minded enough. >> using the language of the day, on edith roosevelt, we referenced your scholarship on the fact that edith roosevelt terms about african-
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americans. we have a lot of helen taft's writings. >> i did not find the same use -- some of the other unfortunate things that edith roosevelt said. they did not go as far as woodrow wilson and instituting it in the government, but taft hope to develop the republican party in the south. a crusaderwas not for racial justice, but she was not a bigot either. edith roosevelt was further out on the edge. >> a alsoso group -- grew up post-civil war.
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-- they also grew up post-civil war. >> edith and helen were born in the same year, 1861. >> jennifer wants to go back to that overnight stay. was it a preview of today's president hosting the incoming president for coffee on the day of? >> not so much. was an initiative that tr started, it flopped. the tradition of the transition would evolve in the 20th century. and half asok at tr any helpful -- taft as any helpful precedent. >> earlier you referenced she was more modern and her approach
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to things like enjoying alcohol and playing cards. we have a photograph of her at the card table. she smoked, she joined, and she played cards. how much did that connector with the public at large? she played bridge for money and she would win $10 or so. if you put it into today's currency, she was winning about 200 or $300 in purchasing power. if that had come out that she was playing cards, it would have been another political difficulty. what would helen like to drink? would have said, anything with alcohol in it.
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>> did edith roosevelt drink alcohol? >> her father was an alcoholic. runs through the roosevelt family. were the only two that really escape the effects of alcoholism entirely. edith roosevelt was not thrilled with the idea of champagne and other things that helen taft like very much each day. >> colleen is in ohio. what is your question? used to be thele personal secretary of president taft. they became really good friends.
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president taft was concerned [inaudible]dmother which was your relative? charles was his personal secretary. and most the last efficient secretary. his papers are at yale. more will have more and connections. thank you for your call. can you hear me? , helen was ask
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such a vibrant first lady. what is herknow transition from being a first lady to being kind of a private figure in terms of being married to a supreme court justice. how did that work for her? >> she had eight years of transition. became a professor of constitutional law at yale. on those days, you could get on a train and go to new york, go to the theater, have a nice meal and get back in time for dinner at night. it enjoyed that part of after the pressures of the white house. of course, they went back to washington and the role of the chief justice was very much less social than had been the president.
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they also differed over prohibition. chief justice taft wanted enforced and mrs. taft, not so much. he was a very large man. >> 350 pounds. he had neglected his health. he had not been to a dentist in a couple of decades. there were many stories about his weight. said thetice fuller president out onto the street cart [inaudible] >> a lot of jokes were going around at the time.
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a lot of opportunity for commentary and satire. >> how did mrs. taft feel about his weight? -- the was the sort source of some marital tension. this was an area in which he did -- there was a story of him at a cabinet meeting and hey had a bowl of fruit and picked one off until the ball was completely empty. he did not find the presidency very enjoyable. >> the white house needed an extra large bathtub to accommodate the president. that they had to put it in and it happened on the inauguration is one of those it was not done in the
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way they talked about. >> he was a big baby. was seven weeks old, his mother could not put nursery gallons on him that had belts -- owns on him that had belts. >> at he was a very good dancer, far better than tr. feet.as very light on his >> what was her relationship like with the press? seemed to have good relationship with the press. this is exactly the position i think my husband should have.
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one of the reporters commented that she would be an , alllectual, the cultural in one package. what a great opportunity for america to have helen in the white house. >> the only time edith was quoted was when there was a performance of hensel and gretel . helen taft was quite willing to share her opinions on lots of issues with the press. she did not give interviews. she did not speak out on every , she, but if they asked
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got out and about. >> the american public was wildly enthusiastic about the young roosevelt family. what did the public think about the tafts? older when they came to the white house. robert was already at yale, soon to be at harvard law school. was at bryn mawr. was at the taft school taft's brother ran in connecticut.
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>> we promised you more about the cherry blossoms. one helen taft -- one helen taft became first lady, she had the cherry trees landed around the tidal basin. the tidal basin was a mess. there was a speedway. there was nothing to draw people or to make it a beautiful place for people to gather and enjoy nature. helen taft wanted to change that. one of the first thing she did when she became first lady was to asked for trees to be planted. they were requested from nurseries in pennsylvania. the japanese heard about her interest and they decided to give 2000 trees to the united states from the city of tokyo to the city of washington as a gift honoring the american support of
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japan. they arrived in the jan -- they arrived in january of 1910. taft made the decision that they would have to be burned. the japanese were very accommodating and understanding and sent 3000 trees, which arrived in 1912. this is the north section of the tidal basin. many of the original trees had been planted. the older ones have gnarly trunks and overarching branches. helen taft would have planted the first cherry blossom tree. the cherry blossom trees would not be here if it were not for helen taft.
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it was due to her that the trees are here today. >> permanently transforming the capital city. what else do we need to know about this story? taft -- >> taft was not pro- japanese in his foreign-policy. he was tilted more towards chinese. was a gesture from the japanese government to try to make nice with taft. it -- it did turn out to be one of the great beautification moves. is now comingwork to blossom to make the city better than it had ever been. >> taft had one term in the white house.
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it was a momentous time in american history. . .
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. >> at the time, they didn't know what a stroke was. they thought it was a nervous issue she was having. >> that came back quickly. that was her voice. she could not articulate. she got the point where she could speak fluently and could read something aloud but you couldn't understand her fully because she lost that articulation. it took a long time for that to come back. i don't know if she ever fully was the same. but the nerves earlier that morning that she had a stroke, her son had surgery, her youngest child had surgery. the adenoids were removed so she
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was a nervous wreck at that particular day, very uptight, very worried about this operation. then she had the obligation to go down to mt. vernon on the boat. she was that particular day quite tense to begin with. >> charlie's operation had a good deal of blood and stuff. so it was very -- he was her favorite son. robert taft just did it so bright that they didn't have to worry about him but she sent charlie to prep school she said i'll never see him again go back as a son. seeing her go through this was a trauma for her. the nice thing what the president did was there's stories of him sitting on a couch with helen say iing save thee, darling, save thee. let's try to save thee again.
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he was running a rehab in the white house for his wife. was he able to do his duties as fully as he should have? >> i think he carried forward the duties of the white house. but what is striking to me is the emotional stress that it must have been because any moment he could have had another stroke she feels having in may 19, 1911. but the concentration and the distraction of knowing that your wife is upstairs vocally impaired and suffering, i think it's an element of the taft presidency that even in the book i wrote about the taft presidency, i don't think i gave it enough importance. >> comes at a critical time in the presidency when they are debating the tariff act and he loses her input to him on the political ramifications as it goes this way or that way. this was a highly stressful time for him and for her.
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>> he relied on her political advice. >> he really had no other close friends because t.r. had been the other close friend. but none of the brothers were good at giving him advice. no structure in the white house. he had no other friends to confide with. he was the most intimate advisor and in an afternoon she's gone in terms of giving him advice. >> not a politician to boot. >> roosevelt left him in a tough position. he delayed the tariff until it was dumped into taft's lap. so it wasn't a profile in courage for t.r. >> you're on the air? >> hi there. >> you can tell more about the likes and dislikes of theater and music.
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a cultural change of trying to upgrain everything. some of the luminaries she kind of favored and wanted to bring into the white house, either actors or writers or musicians, i would like to get a better picture. name drop, if you would, please. >> in the first book, our musical first lady, you list the performers she brought to washington. >> charles coburn, later a character actor in the 1950s. he took shakespeare around and had performances of shakespeare on the white house lawn. edith roosevelt did a little bit of that. but these were full blown production of the plays and she had artist like ogof samerov. the kind the fbi juries in the 1960s. and bloomfield biseler, the great female pianists, the who's who of classical music moved
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through the white house in the last four years. >> did it have cultural or political impact on society? >> i think it was more cultural. i thought she didn't see this as sort of moving the poll numbers. it was what the first lady ought to do bring the finest music to the white house. and i think generally that's what cultural aspects of the white house do. >> if she wanted washington to be the social representative city of the land. and in it, you know, we have records. we have video and audio of and photographs of jackie kennedy's concerts that she had. but we don't have that with owen taft. so we've got the visual tangible cherry trees. but we don't have the -- there's just the technology wasn't developed enough to have the film that we have now with audio to know what those concerts were
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like in the white house. >> president taft loved to listen to records. they loved to play them at night and he enjoyed going to the musical performances. one wishes we had 30 seconds of helen taft playing the piano would be, i'd certainly listen. >> you referenced a few times, archie button. who is he? >> the president had a military aide in those days. this was archibald willing hamm butt, b-u-t-t. the military aide. he's famous. he wrote his sisters letters. there are three volumes of the letters, one from the roosevelt years, two from the taft years. he was a great gossip. he recorded everything anybody said. some of it may be right, some may be wrong. it's a source the historians used for years. the archie butt, taft and roosevelt. the intimate levels of archie
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butt. >> the amazing story is how did he die? >> on the titanic. >> great loss for taft. >> it crushed taft. archie started off pro t.r. and moved over to taft. he created an emotional dependence on archie. he was with taft most of the time. so when he went off to europe, he -- he didn't want to be around when taft and roosevelt had their battle. so he went off and made his way back in april of 1912. and supposedly was quite heroic on the titanic making sure he got in at the cost of his own life. despite the illness -- we'll learn more about it in the first video. >> mrs. taft enjoyed being the
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first lady. she suffered a stroke in 1909 and wasn't able to attend to all of those things. so it was disappointing. in june of 1911, they were able to celebrate the 25th anniversary there. a big party there with the white house open. thousands of guests came in. they had music and they received tons of silver. just embarrassing amounts of silver. some expensive from all types of not just their friends, from corporations, from all types of people. and we have some of that silver here. that they would have been presented. and it was some things very small and they would have little inscriptions on them. this one just says the taft inscription here. to some things that are like we have, very large silver tray.
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that would have the dates of 1886 to 1911 or just as simple as having a "t" inscribed in them. some of the pieces were large which had the inscription, you can see 1886 to 1911. and william howard taft and hiram taft. in addition to the gifts of silver, many telegrams were sent to the taft family from all over the world. this is the momento that show cases all of those telegrams. they kept those, collected those, and some -- here's some from washington, d.c., buffalo, new york. let's see. here we have -- south orange, new jersey, pittsburgh.
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chicago. this one says permit me to join with your friends in the hope of today's great happiness that you and your family will be exceeded by the happiness of your 50th anniversary. so this from chicago was looking forward to 25 more years. this is recognition of all of the people who appreciated the president and mrs. taft by the gifts, the telegrams, and it was just a strengthening affair for mrs. taft as she moved through her years in the white house. >> well, this tweet is a nice way to come out of that asking how did helen's stroke impact the marriage of the tafts? we have them celebrating their anniversary. you talked about how much he attended to her personally. what are they going to do? >> i think it's strength and a powerful union they established because he became president as
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care giver and doted on her and worried about her and was constantly solicitous about her. so they were a very devoted couple to begin with. so i think alas and sadly, they would have passed on it if they could have. but it did bring them closer together. the letters he wrote to her, he wrote to her every day when she was away and these were handwritten, six, seven, eight-page letters. we get to woodrow wilson writing letters for another reason. but here was taft at the end of a very busy day sitting down and writing 2,000 to 3,000 words to his wife. that's devotion. >> she was in massachusetts recovering at a seaside house. >> she couldn't be in washington in the summer without air conditioning in those days. that's why the british made washington the hardship post. but he would dictate some letters and she said please, handwrite them. and so he did that too.
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>> watching in massachusetts. speaking of massachusetts, what is your question? >> good evening. we live two towns over from the vacation -- >> beverly. >> beverly, mass. what they call the gold coast. my grandmother relived stories of seeing taft in downtown beverly heading over to play golf at my open yeah country club in hamilton and returned for a couple of summers while in the white house. i wanted to say i enjoy your show and pass that information alone. >> we have a photograph of the place she would recuperate in beverly, massachusetts. on her influence, even with her stroke, a comment from the chief usher, ike hoover at the white house observing her in action in washington. he wrote, no uncommon thing to see her take part in political
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and official conferences, speaker cannon of the house with the president and mrs. taft. she attended the private conferences. she would walk in on private caucuses, unheralded, unannounced. >> it was interesting brought up in 1964, her daughter wrote a letter to "time" magazine said this is much overdrawn, my mother after the stroke couldn't do that anymore. ike hoover has a very well known memoir in the white house. historians regard him with deep skepticism. he didn't like ellen taft. he was not fan of hers. so take it for what it says. >> the view of her own writings and other people's observations on how deeply she was involved and on policy making, tells us what? >> in looking at her memoir, she downplays the role. but it seems to me she had more
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of an advanced role than a lot of first ladies up to that point. but not nearly as advanced as we are today. she was washington centric in her outlook as first lady. she was not going out and about around the country making stops in different parts of the country. she might have travelled with him had she not had that stroke. that might have been the influence that we're missing on his presidency. >> so in no sense they were co-president? >> no, no. >>ed the last year when the rift becomes great between theodore roosevelt and taft. and he decides that he might be mounting a challenge to him, how did that all play out for the party and for the two men? >> well, there was a disaster for the republican party that still echoes in its sort of dna. to this day. one reason the republicans compose their differences more than the democrats is because
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there's this ancestral memory of the trauma they went through in 1912. helen was convinced t.r. was going to run from march 4, 1909. it started developing in a more measured way. in 1911, it was clear that roosevelt was pushed hard to be put into the race. she kept saying i know he's going to do it. i know he was going to do it. when he announced, she said i knew he was going it. will said, my dear, i think you've been predicting it for so long, you're happy now that your prediction has come true. she didn't trust theodore roosevelt one minute. >> he split off, was with the bull moose party. his decision to do that brought wood row wilson into the white
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house. what were the last months of the taft presidency like? >> well, taft took his defeat with unusual grace. he was not a bad loser. he said -- when the press said do you feel disappointed? he said, look, the american people gave me the gift of the presidency for four years. how many men have had that gift given to them? i would be an ingrate and a loser if i said i was angry at this point. he writes to one of his relatives and friends in cincinnati. you know, you have to punt with the vagaries of democracy, the american people have made their decision. i have to live by it. i can't be angry about it. he went out on a wave of goodwill as someone who showed how democracy should operate. so he was disappointed but not
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imbittered. that's to his credit over the long haul. >> what mattered most to taft was the law and the rule of law and the people had spoken. so he could accept that more easily than some people. >> christine in boise. you're on the air, hi, christine? >> hi. i was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about her three children and what became of their lives and families? >> well, her oldest son robert ran for the senate. was a successful senator. so was his son and then his son, robert, taft's great grandson was governor of ohio. their daughter went on a phd. she married, had children. the youngest son was the mayor of cincinnati. mr. cincinnati was his nickname. they had their own legacy in politics. >> robert taft becomes mr. republican. and helen, the daughter, becomes
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the dean at brinmar and is an influential educator. charles taft had a career in cincinnati politics. he tried to move up to be governor. didn't work out. he was probably the most liberal between he and robert taft. and helen was pro suffrage at the time that her mother wasn'tment. president taft becomes pro suffrage because it's a way of enforcing prohibition and his view, he didn't like prohibition, but if the american people wanted it, he wanted it in force. >> we have a list of some of the firsts that mrs. taft brought to the role of the first lady. the first to ride with the president in the inaugural parade. the first to attend a supreme court argument. she was the first to attend a political convention, but not of her husband's party. she went to the democratic convention in 1912. >> yes. they met in baltimore which made it a sort of a road trip for
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her. she went with democratic women. most of society went over to see the baltimore convention. it lived up to the billing unlike the dull routine political conventions of our time that's drained of all significance. the one that nominated wood row wilson had 46 ballots. it had drama. a resolution was included attacking president taft and he withdrew it because he didn't want to embarrass the first lady while she's sitting in the gallery. >> she was the only first lady to attend the opposite political party. >> imagine that happening today, can you? >> no. >> among the firsts -- the first to donate her inaugural gown to the smithsonian and started that practice which is the most popular exhibit. she brought automobiles to the white house. in fact, in a commercial which we don't have time to tell that story, the first first lady to
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publish her memoirs and the first first lady along with her husband to be buried in arlington cemetery. one of the viewers tweeted to us that they have been flowing along in our book about first ladies. i want to take a second to tell you about it. we're doing this series in partnership with the white house historical association. they have published a book called the first ladies that contains a biography of each one of the first ladies. we're making it available at cost, 12:95 on our website. the one i referenced earlier. there's a way to buy this book. you can read along with it and learn more about each of the first ladies as we work our way through the series. if you're interested, that's a resource available to you. we have a video about the inaugural gowns. let's watch that, next. >> smithsonian has very few pieces that belong to helen taft. but the piece that we do have is
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the most significant -- one of the most significant pieces in the first ladies' collection. going to open it up for you. helen taft was a woman of firsts. she was a woman of combination. and this to me symbolizes all of that. this is helen taft inaugural gown. she had the dress embroidered in the philippines to wear to the inaugural ball. the nomination was very important to helen taft. she saw it as her husband coming into the white house and herself coming into the white house. it was a very ceremonious occasion for her. she marked this occasion, her entry into the white house and added it as a mark of first ladies on the united states when she became the first first lady to donate her inaugural gown to the smithsonian institution. she happeneded to be the first
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first lady when the founders were putting the collection together. they met helen taft at a lunch commemorating dolly madison. they asked her if she would be interested in the new collection they were putting together. they were trying to acquire something from every first lady. mrs. taft generously offered to lend and donate her inaugural gown to the election. she's the founding patron of the first ladies' collection and she established a tradition that the first ladies would donate their gown to the collection. every first lady after mrs. taft who had an inaugural gown donated it to the smithsonian institution. >> many of you watching tonight have been through that exhibit over time. well, the tafts leave washington. he has the problem that he can't really practice law because he's appointed so many of the judges so he goes to teach at yale.
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>> coming back to yale, he tells the yale daily news. >> how did he become the chief justice of the united states? >> he played things very carefully for eight years hoping that the republicans would come back in. he was very disappointed when wilson -- heart broken was the case when wilson was re-elected. he had come to hate wilson. wilson and the democrats were reputiated in 1920 and harding becomes president on new year's eve -- sorry, christmas eve. 1920, taft is in marion, ohio and goes to see the hardings and the hardings say, would you like to be on the supreme court? i'll kbrout on the court. he said i could only be chief justice. harding says chief justice douglas white dies.
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taft was going to make way for a republican anyway. and taft is appointed chief justice about july 1, 1921. >> and served for how long? >> he serves until his death in early 1930. >> and chief justice william howard taft was responsible for giving the supreme court its own home. until that time, it met in the capitol building. he understood as president how to get that done. he didn't live to see the court work in the supreme court building. but he's the one that got that under way and gave the court its own place in washington, d.c. brian seenbergen ask, did helen taft -- we know the story -- like being first lady more than taft liked being president. but goes on to say what was her role after he became chief justice? what was her life like then? >> pretty much, very quiet. the wives of the justices did not have a public role. they didn't entertain.
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it was really cloistered in a way that is not the case today. we have chief justices speaking on all sorts of questions. and taft's view was he issued opinions. promoted the law, he helped to get the supreme court building. but that was about it for society as far as the supreme court was concerned. >> big first lady is what she always wanted to do. she didn't have a big ambition about that other than just to live a quiet life. so i think that's why, you know, you don't see that as much. >> bill in tampa, hi, bill, you're on. >> i was channel surfing and came upon your program. wonderful, congratulationses. i'll be tuning in for all of the episodes. >> thank you. >> and your question. >> we love it. ms. cooke, we love american phoenix, keep that works going, thank you. >> thank you, appreciate it. >> she feels a lucky lady. she suffered two strokes and
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outlived her husband and lived to the ripe old age of 81. how did she spend those years? >> interacting with children and grandchildren, they continue to go to murray bay. haven't talked about his love for murray bay, canada. they had a cabin and grew into a kind of a taft complex. 4e would have made it the summer white house in canada, but the president by tradition could not leave the continental united states in their time in office. if they had been in murray bay, it would have been much happier. >> the political fallout having a summer home in another country. >> yeah, it was just impossible. but he loved murray bay so much. he k0u8d not wait to get there to get away from the heat of washington. >> she's also -- this is not during the chief justice years but after the white house, she
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did write an autobiography with a ghost writer. the first ones to be published. >> published in 1914 a couple of years after she left the white house. as a matter of fact, if you're really sbrelsed in her life, we have hyperlinked her autobiography on her website. it's in a public domain now. you can read it if you would like to have more of her details. that's on that website. trying to put lots of resources on there for those of you who are interested. >> more about the philippines than the white house. the white house just about the last 15%. but it was unique even though it was ghost written by a writer from a magazine and her daughter, she didn't think it was dignified to write it herself. >> you brought a letter you found on the internet, as a matter of fact, her and her postwhite house years. why did you find this charming or interesting? >> i enjoy collecting the
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letters of people. i did all of this. but she's writing about the transition taft had been on the national war labor board in world war i. that was coming to an end. we were moving back to new haven. she talks about, then we can go to the summer to murray bay. >> invited back to the white house by eleanor roosevelt in 1940. >> yes. she feels. that's a quiet tradition that first ladies have. helen invited cleveland back to the white house. when she was first lady, thach got invited. they were married the same year, 1886. there's a little club of first ladies to share and talk about their experiences and to invite a previous first lady back is a nice quiet tradition. >> died on may 22, 1943. and as we said earlier, is the first and only one of two first ladies buried at arlington cemetery. you can see some video there of arlington national cemetery.
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the taft -- the taft burial place. also we close out here in our final few seconds, i want to go right back to where we started. we have introduced people to helen taft. why should she be remembered among the pantheon of first ladies. >> the cherry trees, the musicianship she bought, the role of making taft president, the role in the split between t.r. and her husband. she was a consequential first lady in a cultural and political and marital sense. and i think she deserves much more from history than she's received. >> and jane, what would you say? >> i would say definitely all of the firsts that she did as first lady. but also that she made it okay for a woman to have an interest in politics. we can look back and see that she was ahead of her time. and to see the first ladies that came after her, more of them had
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the natural interest as well. >> for our first lady scholars, thank you for helping us to understand more about one of america's most obscure 20th century first ladies. we hope we told the audience about her life and interested them in learning more. thanks for being with us. >> thank you.
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>> next monday, wood row wilson's and edith's love was reflected in letters. she died of kidney disease after being first lady for less than a year and a half. president wilson wrote, "god has stricken me almost beyond what i can bear. through this personal tragedy, and with america on the path to world war i, president wilson met edith bowling through a mutual friend. they fell in love, had a secret courtship, and got married. she's best known for looking
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after president woodson during his affairs. her, quote, stewardship of the presidency and the level of power she wielded remain the most controversial efforts of any first lady. join us as we get to know both first ladies in the wilson white house -- ellen and edith, live monday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span 3. we are offering a special edition of the book, first ladies of the united states of america. comments from noted historians on the role of first ladies throughout history for the discounted price of $12.95 plus shipping at c-span.org/product ms. our website has more about the first ladies, including a special section, well dom the white house. produced by our white house, the white house historical
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association. chronicling life in the mansion in the tenure of each of the first ladies. find out more at c-span.organize/firstladies. is. >> c-span student cam video competition is under way. it's open to all middle and high school students. this year, we're doubling the number of winners and prize money. create a five-to-seven issue documentary on what congress should consider in 2014. it should show varying points of view and they're due by january 20, 2014. need more information, visit student cam.org. >> a look back at the 2008 financial crisis with henry paulson and former representative barney frank. in an hour, president obama marks the fifth anniversary and takes a look at the economy. then the first ladies' program on helen taft.
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>> university of maryland professor will talk about the middle east reaction to the situation in syria. and its impact on the u.s. foreign policy. then politico magazine editor susan glasser discusses the unites nation's role in syria in the days ahead. later, bloomberg government senior economist looks at the role of federal reserve and possible replacements for federal reserve chair ben bernanke whose term ends in january of 2014. washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span.
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i think the crisis qualifies. this series is made possible by the continued generosity of hbo. let me start with the question on the mind of the people in the public. you look at the number of
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prosecutions, the sec charges, the executive compensation, the public statements of contrition or lack there of for the leaders of wall street, do you think the people responsible for the decisions that led to the crisis have been held accountable? >> i sure know that's a question on the public's mind. i'm going to say something that may not retznate a lot publicly. but if you accept my explanation of the crisis which the excesses have been building for years, that a giant credit bubble burst, that a is it definition of a bubble is something the
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market doesn't understand until it bursts and every financial crisis in history has flawed government policies and it bursts and it manifests itself in the financial system and how it's structured, then you may accept my answer which is the banks made a lot of mistakes. there's nothing wrong, not that we shouldn't focus on the mistakes and correct the mistakes, but that the men who are rubbing the banks and the people who are running the banks, the men and women working in the banks, we're dealing with a 100-year storm, something the likes of which they have never seen before. the country would have to go back to the great depression to see something like that. they would try to blow their entities up. now so i'm assuming that -- that given all of the investigations that have gone on, that it
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would -- when people broke the law, they are being held accountable. but i understand that that view out there is there -- >> well, first, the jurisdictions, mine, the committee, hanks, the treasury. he's on the justice department. i work on the judicial committee. we had an important job which was a, prevent things from falling apart totally in 2008. then trying hard to keep them from reduring. so i don't speak from direct involvement there. i want to talk to some of my liberal friends about this. one of the reasons we had to pass a lot of new laws was because a lot of stuff that was bad wasn't illegal. a central element in due process is you do not criminally prosecute someone unless he or she had good reason to know that conduct was illegal. they wouldn't let us do that.
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that's a big part of the problem. >> i do -- i do think this -- so that's a major reason. you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that people did things knowing they were against the law. that doesn't mean ignorance of the law doesn't come from that. it was illegal. i think they're acting, many of them. we hurt their feelings. we look at the law, if you look at what we did, we didn't stop them from doing a lot of things. i've come to believe people want 234k from the government. a lot of the guys have been making a lot of money. oh, my god, how could you say such rude things. . >> as a former banker, i was disgusted by what i saw. the behaviors, and so on. but you can be disgusted and you
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could be disappointed. but you can still take the basic view that barney and i have taken, at least i'm assuming that the legal system is working. >> barney frank, lehman brothers. hank pallson said he tried to save it, they couldn't. didn't have the legal authority to do it. they were in such bad shape. you had a great line that it was national free market day. the daileyman went down. do you accept that there was nothing -- >> i have a close working relationship with the secretary. by the way, people went about it bipartisanship? where did it go? in september of 2008, it was arrive and well, when a republican president came to a democratic congress and said you work it out with pallson and bernanke, we did. we were working closely then.
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i was in new york the weekend that lehman went under. i came to hate friday afternoons at 5:00. the phone would ring and he would be calling me up to tell me about a new disaster after most of the markets are closed. we were talking about lehman brothers. i knew he was doing everything possible to keep it going. i went home. i said to my husband, jim. well, barclay's bank is going to buy lehman brothers, paulson told me that. the fha pulled the plug. i know he tried hard to do that. my comment was a lot of my conservative friends said let them go bankrupt. you shouldn't have done bear stearns. lit fall. lehman was allowed to fall. and, of course, the consequences were so terrible. we came to the consensus we couldn't let it happen again. then it was national free market day. >> the other thing which barney
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allowed me to tell the story in the prologue that's just come out with the reissue of "on the brink" was that wasn't too long after lehman went down -- excuse me, that bear stearns went down that the markets and, again, bear stearns, bear stearns had only been saved because the buyer in the form of j.p. morgan emerged. and we had to have a definitive system. but we learned that the time we didn't have the necessary authorities to save a failing investment without a buyer. so ben bernanke and i went and talked with barney. we explained he didn't have the emergency powers he had for emergency banks. we didn't have them for investment banks to wind them down and keep them outside of
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the bankruptcy process. barney explained -- it was true after he explained it. that we weren't able to get the authorities from congress. the only chance of getting them was to say we -- we'll have a huge crisis if we don't get them because it will fail. that would have brought it on us. but they ended up enacting those as part of dodd-frank. >> to make a factual point, the opposition was coming from the republicans than the democrats. strong wing of the republicans take on the financial services committee who said, let it happen. but that didn't fully answer your question. hank convinced me that ben bernanke, here was the problem -- if an institute failed, these were one of the two choices -- they could pay all or none of the debts. either one was unacceptable. lehman, none of the debts. aig, they paid the debts,
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everybody was in a bad mood. so we gave them the authority -- first of all, put the institution out of business. we had debt panels in our bill in 19 -- in 2010 but for big banks, not old ladies. they weren'ted in the health care bill, they were in the financial bill. then the authorities could step in only as much of the debt they think is necessary to avoid further contagion, recovering it. but that was in the will. it was in the bill because hank and ben bernanke asked us to put it there. no legal authority. all or nothing. he said no, do as much as you have to and no more. >> just on lehman, we didn't even have it all. because we couldn't guarantee or put in capitol. a.i.g., the fed was able to make a loan because it was secured by
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the insurance company. >> that was another thing. herbert hoover had signed a bill giving the fed the power essentially to give anybody money who needed it to keep the economy going. you don't have the unrestricted power anymore. >> a number of people from bob dimon to elizabeth warren, the senator of massachusetts said we did a lot of nice things for dodd frank and glad that the banks have more capitol. but we haven't solved the problem of too big to fail. do you think we solved it? >> well, here's what i'll say. first of all, i have no doubt too big to fail has to end. we have -- this is not the -- the thing that i'm most concerned about because as a result of dodd-frank, regulators now have the tools to manage the failure of any large financial institution. and to keep it out of
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bankruptcy. so what i've said is the too big to fail is a misnomer anyway. because it's -- it's not just size, it's complexity. it's interconnectiveness, for number one. i go on to say that no bank is too big to liquidate. almost any bank of sites is too big to liquidate immediately in the crisis. >> do we have a global one? >> in terms of what we can do is what with have in the u.s., regulators have authorities. i wishe with had thechlt -- them. if you're asking me if the tools had been refined globally, i would say the answer is there's a little bit that needs to be done. financial markets are global, they're integrated. they're not regulated
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nationally.
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but they get rid of it. secretary of the treasury may find there's not enough money to pay the debt.
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they mandate every penny by financing every institution over $50 billion. one group says, if there was a major financial institution in trouble, it would be overwhelming political pressure not to put it out of business but to keep it going. in what country? in america, we were barely able to get it through. for the americans to think we'll go to the rescue of a big bank is insanity. what about internationally. with can control an american bank. what if a bank somewhere else in the branchs. yet to be addressed. what about a massive failure? what if they all fail? in 2008, lehman was in trouble. lehman went under, but goldman, wells fargo, j.p. morgan chase?
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hank had to force them to take the money. they had to take it to not stigmatize the others that needed it. the massive stuff -- i want to quote you -- he feels asked what if the soviet union invades israel? he said there are some things you cannot plan for. >> paulson said you're not going to get a word in edgewise with barney on the thing. he said, don't worry, i'm really aggressive. >> to me, where politics could enter in. i agree with barney. we have a lot of the tools we need. the banks are better capitalized and better regulated. we focus on other issues, not that the big banks are a problem. i'm much more focussed on fannie, freddie, the shadow
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banking markets and so on. i want to say the place for politics to come in were partly my making. the things we did were so unpopular. really unpopular. there were polls that when i left office that showed torture showed higher, more favorable than the tarp. >> and you weren't up for re-election. >> those who voted were not concerned about the polls anyway. but i was plenty concerned. i think regulators have the tools they need.
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they have emergency authorities to guarantee the capital everything i think they need. but i think there may be pressure to liquidate these banks and not prop them up too quickly. the opposite. if one does fail, the others are going to be in much stronger condition, that's the likelihood of them being blown over easily by this has been diminished that they had to strengthen themselves. >> if you could have added one more title, what would that have been? >> i would have merged the sec and the co ch itc. no rational university. the cftc, performance, the sec is the east coast and the west coast. >> it would have been politically. >> break out again.
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>> and you would have had rebellion on the west coast and the east coast. it would have been in congress. the cftc when started dealt with corn and pork, etc. then what happened was the financial derivatives came to the fore. i proposed a solution at one point. we should give the cftc jurisdiction over everything and the sec had everything else but the agriculture wouldn't give it up. >> fannie, freddie. you mentioned fannie and freddie, big piece of unfinished business. we nationalized the mortgage market. what should we do? what are the principles we need to use? i want to say the first thing we worked on in getting done was
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the extraordinary authorities for fannie and freddie. they haven't gotten the attention they might have because they came unglued. they were nine times larger. in the market stooims auctioning $20 billion of securities. if the auctions had gone bad and people started to dump the securities, it would have been terrible. can you imagine what mortgage prices -- home prices would have gone and the number of defaults we would have had if the institutions were not put under conservatorship. so i think it's a factor in anything that we did in the crisis. the big epps untold story. i'm concerned because right now when roughly 90% -- maybe not quite, but roughly 90% of mortgage
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mortgages in america have gotten some kind of government support. i argue that means that government subsidies are setting the price in terms, not the private market place. my thought is i no longer am treasury secretary. i don't have to come up with a specific proposal. but what i do say is come up with principles. and i do like, you know, the corker-warner bill. but we could have anything that shrunk the mission. i don't know that they shouldn't have existed. i'd fatz one out and have a clear road map of what would succeed thechlt i think everything we do should have private market par tills pants should be at risk. the government guarantee should be explicit. the government should be paid
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for that guarantee and the price should be sufficient that there's room for a private mortgage market. and then i would limit the mission in terms of either the size of qualifying mortgages, you know, the income of it or the first-time homeowners or all of the above. >> mr. frank, they're doing all of the things you wanted them to do. making homeownership available? i'm skeptical of homeownership. you have to make a factual point. from 1995 -- 1994, congress passed something called the homeowners' equity protection act that says please regulate mortgages. don't let them be given out. alan greenspan he later testified he made a mills take because he didn't think it would go out of control. from '95 to 2006, i was in the
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minority. i was too sanguine, i became persuaded things needed to change. he becomes secretary in 2006. looks like the majority. the first legislation came in 2007 when i was chairman. i don't think the hybrid public shareholder, there's too much tension there. here's the policy debate. some of the free market conservative purists believe just put it out all together. people in the housing business say if you want 30-year fixed rate mortgages to be available, there has to be a government guarantee. the government should not be guaranteeing credit risk. they should be a availability for people to buy some interest rate risk if they're going to commit to 30 years.
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that's what corker wanted to do. my piece of this -- this is where i wanted to go. i think people have oversold the importance of homeownership. i want to see the important trust fund it outlaws the bad mortgages and we replace that with affordable rental housing. >> do you think the bush and obama administration did everything they could have to help the people underwater -- >> it was not even the administration or the obama administration. it was the none of the above administration. the first time since the great depression we had a serious problem to deal with it. they moved it from march 4 to january 20. hank and i talked about this. the first 350 billion of the t.a.r.p. went out without much
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about mortgages. we argued about that. one of the few differences. hank said i have another -- i can draw another $350. if obama okays it, i will ask for it. i asked the obama administration to okay it. they said we're not in charge, they're in charge. neither bush or obama frankly was ready to do it. the obama administration said only one person at time. i said they overestimated the number of presidents we then had in september. so we lost an opportunity. and i honestly believe that political science will study this. >> i think george bush was a great president in this period. and the way he -- he dealt with f

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